Thursday, November 22, 2012

Illustration Friday: Zoom

art & concept by Chandana Banerjee

This week, Illustration Friday popped out the word 'Zoom' for our illustrations. 'Zoom'...hmm...where would I like to zoom to? What would I choose as my mode of 'zooming'? I'm not terribly fond of zooming. I prefer traveling at manageable speeds. Fast bikes, fast cars, rockets...well these are not for me. I'd rather bob on a river on a bamboo raft, or cycle around meandering roads or maybe, just maybe, fly along with a kite on its papery tail.

So that's when I thought that Tara could go on a journey, riding the tail of a kite. A slow, simple journey into the indigo skies, sailing along with sun-ripe clouds. Don't you wish you could do this sometime? Go far away from your routines, into a magical journey.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Norbu, the little monk

Norbu the little monk

Prayer flags at Norbulinka

Cheerful monks at McLeod Ganj
Art & concept by Chandana Banerjee

Norbu is a seven-year-old monk, who lives in a monastery in McLeod Ganj. He loves ice-cream and the colours of prayer flags. He often wiggles around during his prayer classes, finds the tourists visiting the monastery more interesting than his lessons, and loves to pose for photographs. He loves to play football with his other little monk friends, whenever he gets a chance to. And Norbu has a special secret. (We'll unfold the secret in the days to come, so stay tuned.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Queen's Kolhapuris

The Queen's Kolhapuris

Art & Story by Chandana Banerjee

Last year, I was visiting Ramgarh, a fort town in Rajasthan with crumbling forts and palaces. Right around the corner, near the Maharani's (queen) palace was a little shop, just as ancient as the palace itself. Dusty and dark with an odd mix of whimsical and quirky things, the store was any antique hunter's dream and a 'neatophile's nightmare. I spent a whole afternoon rummaging through tattered tomes, handwritten cookbooks with yellowed pages, heavy fabric that may have been resplendent at one time, utensils and what-not. Tucked into one corner was a pair of slippers. Kolhapuri-kind-of-slippers that were clearly hand-sewn. Green and dull gold with burnished brown soles, the slippers had something oddly magnetic about them. As I dusted them and slipped them on, only to find that they fit me snugly, the old, wobbly shopkeeper came out from a corner and said, "These belonged to one of the princesses' a 100 years ago."

I had to have them right away. I slipped them on, paid the shopkeeper and walked out of the shop, sauntering past the Queen's Palace. On a whim, I popped into the queen's quarters. The sun was dipping low on the horizon, bathing the carved monument in buttery yellow light. I saw a flash of red and green, the gold edge of a skirt around a pillar. I rubbed my eyes, only to hear a tinkling of anklets and wisps of laughter. Inching closer to the room, I peeped through the tinted window.

Women in rich ghagras (traditional skirts) and heavy jewellery danced, laughed and sang. Was this the palace harem, I wondered. The room was as good as new, with marble floors, velvet curtains and silk pillows. I looked on, fascinated with pages of history coming alive right before my eyes....

However, in a few minutes, the sun dipped lower, wrapping the palace in shadows. I turned to a tap on my shoulder. "Madam, what are you doing here? You can't be on the premises after sunset," informed the security person. As I got ready to leave, I took one last look inside the room. It was dark and crumbling, with no signs of the life and laughter I'd witnessed a few minutes earlier.

As I walked back to my hotel, I wondered whether it was imagination or the magic slippers that belonged to one of the royal women in that room...

Illustration Friday: Tree

The Jalebi Tree

- Art & Story by Chandana Banerjee

One day, when the sun sauntered out from the west, when the birds began talking and when leaves turned blue and red, there came a small orange cloud, stuffed with Jalebis. (Note: Jalebis are Indian sweets, shaped like circular squiggles, deep-fried and sugary sweet, and a hot favourite with many.) The cloud hovered over a field, where rabbits sunned themselves, meek little door-mice scampered around looking for treats to eat and blackbirds painted themselves with white polka dots.

The cloud wobbled around a bit, heavy with its load. "Ah! There are plenty of happy creatures to enjoy my treats," he said with satisfaction, as he surveyed the field full of mice and rabbits, and the sky abuzz with birds. So, with joy, he showered the field with crisp, squiggly, sugary sweet jalebis. It was a sight to see! Jalebis tumbled down from the sky, each a different shade of orange, each glistening with its golden syrup. Some of these jalebis got stuck on the branches of a lone tree in the field. They rocked gently on the ebony branches, as the polka-dotted blackbirds swooped down to grab their share of sweets.

Well, I was just passing by and happened to see this sugary sight. I took home a few jalebis, wrapped in my handkerchief and enjoyed the nectar-filled sweets. And if you ever chance by that field, let me know if the jalebis are still stuck on the tree or if the blackbirds have feasted on them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sunshine Girl

Art & Story by Chandana Banerjee

Tara stands under the sun, her curls reaching out towards the slivers of buttery light. She feels the warmth on her brown face, the fleeting morning sunlight on her shoulders. "It's such a happy morning," she thinks to herself, wrapping herself tightly in the gold and blue.

"Can I fill myself with this light?"
"Can I drink it like a cup of sun tea or sip some like honey?"
"What will it be like to have this soft winter light within? To have all this happiness filling your being?"

Questions like white butterflies, thoughts like sun-filled dew drops make each day so special for this little girl. 

Cupcake Magic

Art & Post by Chandana Banerjee

I love cupcakes. Yummy vanilla, chocolate and blueberry cupcakes with a tower of buttery, swirling frosting. I love tucking into them. And I'd like very much to learn how to make them. They look like little pieces of edible art. And the small bites make them not so 'calorie-fic' ;-).

In this piece of art, let me introduce you to Tanya...the local magic baker. Yes, she bakes like magic. And she puts some magic in those swirly, fluffy cupcakes of hers too. She pops them out of the oven, swirls on the icing and then sends them flying to friends, fairies and children. So hey, the next time you're craving a cupcake...don't forget to contact Tanya for a batch of her magic cupcakes.

Her contact details:

Tanya of Cupcake Magic Patisserie
Phone: ******

Quilted Dreams

Art and Story by Chandana Banerjee

Tara's tucked into her quilt, as snug as a bug in a rug.  This is a special quilt sewn with colored dreams. Dreams the color of tinted glass - green, blue and pink. Dreams with patterns of wild songs, seams of adventure, embroidered with stories.

Tara quilts her dreams together - a patchwork of stories and wide-awake nights, twilight dreams and  in-the-crack-of-time chases.